New Bike Review: Niner EMD9

For the past year or so, I’ve been saving my nickels, quarters, and the occasional folding currency for a new mountain bike – specifically, a geared 29er hardtail. After a lot of waffling and agonizing, I ended up ordering a custom Niner EMD9 build through Speedgoat Cycles. I initially wanted just a couple modifications off of a stock build they had, but ended up being able to work out several component changes for exactly the right price (thanks Michael C.!).

Begging to get dirty!

For everyone wanting to know the specs, here you go (the rest of you, skip down to the pretty pictures).

2012 Niner E.M.D.9 aluminum frame with tapered headtube
Fox 32 FLOAT 29 100 RLC FIT 15QR Tapered Fork
SRAM 2×10 X7 drivetrain (derailleurs, shifters, cranks)
Shimano XT Ice Tech brakes
Stan’s Notubes Arch EX 29er wheelset
Continental Race King 2.0 tires
Easton EA50 stem, bars, and seatpost
WTB Silverado Pro saddle
Weight: 25.22 lbs

2x10 SRAM drivetrain

I now have about 6 hours on the bike (3 rides in 3 states, thanks to a recent family trip!) and I have to say I’m having a blast. It’s a solid ride – could be lighter I suppose, but I have no complaints since it’s lighter than my Monocog! I’m also really enjoying the Fox fork (no surprise there), the 2×10 drivetrain, and the XT brakes.

The EMD9 at home

For the frame itself, I have to say it’s a really nice balance – very maneuverable, I can loft the front end easily, which is a nice change from the stable but ground-loving Monocog. I’ve also found it to be a capable climber – the last ride I went on (which I’ll be devoting a separate post to later!) involved some pretty crazy rocky and rooty climbs, and the bike handled them all – I made a few mistakes in picking my lines on unfamiliar trails, but it’s not fair to blame the bike for human error!

Rocks and roots, no problem!

I’m still making adjustments and shaking things down, but I’ve been really happy with my purchase so far. A couple changes may be in order – for one, I still have to get the tubes out of my tubeless-ready setup, and I also want to take some weight out of the seat post (it’s 400mm and I could probably do fine with 300mm). Overall though, I’ve got a sweet and fun ride that can handle a wide range of terrain with ease. If you’re in the market for a new hardtail 29er that doesn’t totally break the bank, I definitely recommend checking out the EMD9.

Who is making the move to 2×10?

The big boys are making their pitch: 3×9 is dead. It’s all about the 2×10. But are you buying it? Switching over from 3×9 to 2×10 can be an expensive proposition. You are basically at the point of having to change out your whole drivetrain:
– Derailleurs
– Shifters
– Crank
– Cassette
– Chain

Only recently have we even begun to see cranks and cassette offerings that are in the budget of the normal man. Before that, SRAM only had the XX with the 10 speed cassette and as lightweight and appealing as it may be I am not dropping $300+ on a cassette. SRAM did show off the X.0, X.9 & X.7 groupo’s with 2×10 at Sea Otter but a quick google search shows me that much of the X.7 stuff is selling for about 50% more than their 3×9 counterparts. Ouch.


Beautiful XX cassette goes for over $300

Shimano has the 10 speed stuff down through their SLX line up available to purchase right now you are still looking at a 50% price increase. It would be like purchasing SLX stuff at the price of XT. Shimano did keep the triple crankset up front but my understanding is that if you go 10 speed in the rear, you will need to go with their Dyna-Sys lineup.

But beyond price, how many of us mortals can actually push a 2×10 through our rides? I occasionally ride my SS and I can tell you that I am very careful which rides I bring that bike on. If it has too many climbs, I’m bringing my geared bike. A few years ago I had a 1×9 as my main bike and even though I got a stronger I was still killing myself on the climbs and of course the 2+ hour rides were out of question as I would be walking more than riding.


Shimano is going 10 speed but with a special triple crankset

Even one of my good friends who competes in 12 hour rides prefers to keep his 3×9 for that extra gear when he hits the climbs late in his race.

I have to admit, the bling factor is definitely there especially for those high end builds and the weight savings would probably be nice. But I would rather spend XT money and get XT stuff rather than spend XT money to get an SLX 3×10 drivetrain.

Are you making the move to 10 speeds in the rear? If you are, what are your reasons for it?

Sette Ace Review

Sette Ace Review

The Sette Ace was sent to us by the kind folks of Sette USA as a demo bike. Here’s a bit of info before we start with the review.

Price: $999 from Pricepoint.com
sette ace
Specs:

Frame Aluminum 7005
Size(s) Small (16.5″/42cm)/Medium (18.5″/47cm)/Large (20.5″/52cm)
Fork Rock Shox Tora 302 Air (4.72″/120mm) w/PopLoc
Rear Shock Rock Shox Monarch 2.1 (4″/101mm)
Shifters SRAM X7, 9-Speed Trigger
Front Derailleur SRAM X7, Low Clamp, Blk, 34.9 Top Pull
Rear Derailleur SRAM X7 Black Long Cage
Shifter Cable/Housing Jagwire Slick
Brake Levers Avid Juicy 3
Front Brake Avid 160mm Rotor
Rear Brake Avid 160mm Rotor
Hoses Avid Hydraulic Hose
Crankset Truvativ Firex 3.3, 175mm, Black, 44/32/22T
Bottom Bracket Truvativ Giga Pipe XR, 73mm English
Cassette SRAM PG-970, 11-34
Chain SRAM PC-971
Headset FSA 1-1/8″ Standard – Black
Handlebar Lightweight Alloy Riser Bar- Black
Grips Durable Ergo Grips – Black
Stem Lightweight Alloy – Black
Saddle High Performance Saddle – Black
Seatpost Lightweight 6061 Alloy – Black, 31.6 x 350mm
Rims Mavic XM719 32H Black, Presta Valve
Front Hub Shimano XT M756, 6-bolt Disc Brake, 32H black, QR
Rear Hub Shimano XT M756, 6-bolt Disc Brake, 32H black, QR
Spokes 14/15 Gauge Double-Butted, Stainless Steel, Black
Pedals Shimano PD-505, Silver
Front Tire Kenda Krusher 26″ x 2.1, 60 TPI
Rear Tire Kenda Krusher 26″ x 2.1, 60 TPI
Color(s) White
Warranty 5 Years
Weight 29.8lbs/13.5kg (w/Pedals, Medium Size Avg.)

The bike was shipped to the MtnBikeRiders.com HQ in the same way it would be if you purchased it from Pricepoint.com. After assembly, I made sure everything was tight, aired up, and lubed. I set my air shocks to have at least 25% sag. I took a quick spin around the block and right away the bike felt very nimble and agile.

One the first day out on the trail, I chose to test it on the Fullerton Loop. This is a simple trail that combines some climbs, descents on all sorts of terrain that ranged from single track to pavement.

One thing I need to note, the Sette Ace weighs in at 29lbs (used my scale in the garage). Though its not a super light weight XC bike to some people’s standards, the bike felt light and quick. During a nice pace on the single track, I was able to get it on the big ring and mash on the pedals to see how fast I could get this bike to roll. I’m not your typical XC rider that weighs in at 130lbs. No sir, I’m a big boy, I’m weighing in around 206lbs right now. So that meant there’s more effort on my part to get me rolling fast on the trail. With that in mind, the Sette Ace is easy to get up to speed and maintain the pace. Quick turns and switch backs are not a problem because the bike responds like a small sports car.

Let’s talk about aesthetics for bit. We all know that when you’re looking for anything, a major factor on your decision relies on how the product looks, right? Sette Ace goes with a classic white look with a few gray and black accents on the frame. Most of the folks that I showed the bike to, all liked the all white scheme. In fact one of our friends even mentioned that the Ace reminded him of his old Santa Cruz.

On the Sette Ace, there was one feature that was new to me since other bikes that I’ve tested didn’t come with it. It’s the POPLOC System on the Rockshox Tora. Other forks do come with a lock out, but having the remote ready to when ever you need it means you’re saving time and you’re keeping both hands on the bars, which translate to safety. When I first got the bike, the fork felt like a pogo stick, but that was quickly remedied by making a few quick adjustments on the rebound and after that, it was like butter. The RockShox Tora never flexed during my testing nor did it give me any problems. Air pressure stayed the same throughout the time I rode the bike, about a good month and a half.

Strengths:
Climbs REALLY well. As long as you have your air pressure correct in the rear shock, you’ll have a very efficient ride going up and down the hill.
Very nimble and responsive.
It has a potential to be a good 4x rig…its a vision I have for this bike…
Never bottomed out (yes it can handle jumps)
Great mix of good parts. Rockshox, SRAM X7, Avid and Truvativ
Shifts like butter, thanks to the Jagwire cables and housing.
sette ace

Weakness:

Wouldn’t be so bad if it was at least 26-27lbs. But then again, the rider could simply lose the weight difference through a simple diet plan.
Brake rotors warped. I noticed that there was a slight warp to the rotors when I first got it. The demo bike I rode was previously tested by another organization. So its possible they had something to do with it. Other than that, the bike stopped on a dime.

Summary:

The Sette Ace is a pretty decent contender amongst other XC race bikes in the market. It has good parts, an awesome price point and it looks good. I also have to mention how this bike rides overall. Though its not as plush and squishy as my ALL Mountain Bike, it certainly is quick and very responsive. I certainly liked the Sette Ace and Priscilla did as well. The Sette Ace is the perfect bike for guys or gals who have been riding a hard tail and want to step into the Full Suspension XC bike without breaking the bank. You really can’t go wrong with the Sette Ace, low price ($999), great parts, light enough to race with and the white frame is simply HOT!

Review Disclaimer.

Trek Demo Day, Part I

This past weekend, my friend Full Squish Randall & I went out and rode some bikes at the Trek Demo in Fullerton. First off, I got to give props to Matt Gfell of Jax Fullerton. Matt got us started on a couple of matching Gary Fisher Superflys. Full Squish Randall & I were like twin clydes on our Superfly demos!


Matt Gfell, General Manager extraordinaire at Jax Fullerton

This was Full Squish Randall’s first ride on a 29er and the Superfly did not disappoint. I heard many random 29” wheel comments from him including how he had better traction on the climbs than he did on his 26” bikes and of course the whole “momentum” thing. He also made a point to mention how the 29” wheels really do roll over trail stuff better than the 26” bike would.


I sat on “RL”

So we know the 29” wheels rock but how was the Superfly? Well, what I can tell you is that on our ride I really dug the Superfly.

The Superfly is the top of the line 29er hardtail produced by Gary Fisher. It is geared toward racing or just riding REALLY fast. The monocoque carbon frame comes equipped with a very good, but not all top of the line level build kit. Thankfully, the component specs does not take away from the bike. Rather the X0 shifters mated to the X9 front and X0 rear derailleurs made me reconsider just how much of a step down an all X9 drivetrain really is compared to the Superfly’s setup. But these are just little things. What about the frame, geometry and fork?


Superfly, I’m not crazy about the new graphics… I prefer the originals understated-ness

Well, the bike absolutely flies and I’m becoming more convinced of the G2 steering. The last time I was at the Trek Demo was about a year and a half ago when G2 had just come out. I was not fully convinced of the benefits of the G2 steering. I’m not sure as to why, but this year I am more of a convert.

Where the Superfly shines is fast swoopy singletrack. Oh me oh my! I was grinning like a mad man after railing through the beginning singletrack of the Fullerton Loop. This area is by no means technical but it is fast and it can be very fun if you’re on the right steed and the Superfly was the right steed. What makes it so much fun was really one thing: steering. The G2 geometry allowed me to rip through the singletrack section and steer with my hips rather than with my arms which then translated to riding much faster. I felt like I take more speed into the flowy turns, lower the bike and really rail the singletrack. It felt really nice.


Full Squish Randall getting some air… I took the picture too early, but I’m pretty sure Full Squish’s rear wheel comes off the ground shortly thereafter

The pedal power transfer is almost instantaneous as expected with the rebranded DT Swiss hubs. Climbing was much more fun, first because the bike is lighter than just about any other bike I’ve ridden save my SS and secondly because the bike transfers power so well. There is no loss of power in the frame or the hubs. Turn the cranks and the Superfly feels almost like it is squirting out from underneath you! This is definitely a plus for those climbing aficionados.

The last thing I really noticed on the Superfly is that I never felt as though I had to really push back off the saddle when going downhill. The Fullerton Loop has no particularly technical descents. There are some slightly more technical “extra credit” sections such as a couple of short offshoot sections that are steeper than the trail’s normal section. I hit as many of these extra credit sections and came away impressed that I really didn’t have to push back off the saddle as much as I normally would. I’m not sure why this I but I’m pretty sure it has to do with the geometry. It did make me feel more confident to take even more technical terrain with the Superfly knowing that the bike can probably do more than my skills allow.

All in all, a great fast, light bike. At an MSRP of over $4,000 it is too steep price wise for my wallet and I can do without the graphics but this little hardtail has got me thinking of Fisher’s G2 29er hardtails again… making me want to consider getting one down the line.

Check back in soon for my thoughts on the Roscoe III, the 2nd bike I got to ride at the Trek Demo.

Avid Elixir with Greg “H-ball” Herbold

Greg “H-Ball? Herbold of SRAM took a few minutes of his precious time to share with us how Avid’s new brake, the Elixir, works.


Moe videoing Elixir


Elixir is sleeker than the Juicys


A cutout of the Elixir to demonstrate the action inside the reservoir

How is it supposed to sound?

SRAM

So tell me, how do you pronounce…”SRAM?”

Do you say it as “SCHRAM” or “SsssRRRAAMMM (SRAM)?

Personally I say “Slice of Heaven!” Don’t get me wrong, I like Shimano stuff too, but SRAM has grown on me!

Thursday Tech Tip: SRAM X7 Rear Derailleur

On my SRAM X7 rear derailleur, I noticed that I had misplaced the nut that holds down the cable.

After searching for over half an hour for the nut in my garage floor, I decided to McGyver it. First thing you do is get an old reflector mount. This has a set of screws and nuts on it that you can use. I actually only used one of the nuts…sounds funny… 🙂

Then I took one of those things that came off a V-brake pad, can’t recall the exact name, but you see that its flat on one side.

I put it all together and voila! It works! The nut is just the right size for the derailleur screw.

So if you misplace that nut on your SRAM stuff, just try this tip!